Being appointed an Executor is often seen as an honour, but it can also be an extremely daunting task. The person selected to look after estate matters is often also likely to be the person grieving the most. In an effort to alleviate the stress associated with being an Executor or Administrator, we have compiled some advice on how to prepare your affairs so that the Executor/Administrator can settle the estate effectively and efficiently.
Composing a Will is a thoughtful act. It guides your surviving family and friends through a difficult time. A Will also determines who is entitled to make funeral arrangements. Even if a funeral is pre-paid, an Executor is still required to give the funeral provider permission to move forward with those pre-arrangements.
Gather all necessary documentation.
Finding required information is sometimes the most cumbersome tasks for Executor’s. To make sure they don’t have to pull up floorboards, look under mattresses, and in cookie jars, organize all key documents in a safe and secure location. To find out what documentation and paperwork your Executor will need access to, click here to download our Planning Guide.
Identify Dependents and Beneficiaries in Your Will
For everyone’s sake, be specific about guardianship for dependent children. If any other dependents require exceptional care, outline a plan that would best suit them and what finances are required to do so. Don’t forget about our furry friends. Loss is difficult on pets too. Have an alternative home in mind for pets and consider setting aside a contingency fund for their veterinary expenses.
Keep an Inventory of Your Assets and Liabilities
Executor’s can use checklists to track assets and liabilities with ease. Make their job a little easier by having this up-to-date and recorded in a safe place. List all banking information, real estate, insurance policies, and investments so that your Executor can easily assess the value of the estate. It is also encouraged to keep photographs of your valuables, such as jewellery or other family heirlooms. Having a list of who you wish to bequeath them to is also helpful. Grief and sentimentality are often in abundance when a death of a loved one occurs. Having a transparent list of your intentions can help prevent disagreements and resentment among surviving loved ones.
Keep contact information for trusted professionals available so that your Executor knows who to reach to seek assistance at the time of need. Consider keeping business cards of the following professionals:
- Funeral Home
- Real Estate Agent
- Insurance Agent
- Tax Accountant
- Government Agencies
There is No Such Thing as Too Much Information
Leaving clear instructions for your Executor is a very thoughtful act. It takes time to organize, but it will be very helpful. In addition to all the estate-related matters, we also encourage people to consider leaving behind more sentimental instructions as well. Family will be grateful for letters, a list of favourite tunes, highlights of your childhood, and more. Consider learning more about our Legacy Celebration Options as a way to help your family commemorate you.